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Warning issued about “potentially dangerous” herbals

People are being warned against using a number of herbal medicines that can be bought on the internet because they have been found to contain undeclared prescription-only medicines (POMs) and heavy metals.

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, an asthma herbal product called “Shwasa Sanjeevani” was found to contain the POM dexamethasone. The issue was highlighted after a female patient, who was taking the product, visited her doctor with concerns of weight gain and mild excess facial and body hair growth. 

The MHRA has also issued a separate warning on a number of herbal slimming products that contain undeclared POMs, such as sibutramine, the obesity treatment that was withdrawn from Europe because of its cardiovascular risks, and the erectile dysfunction therapy sildenafil. The products noted are “Lightning 10.0+ Reduces Weight”, “STB Summit of the Thin Body S Woman Degreasing Burning Pill” and “LV Shou Reduces Fat”.

People are also been warned about taking a number of traditional Chinese medicines after some were found to contain high levels of mercury (“Hairegenerator”) or undeclared POMs, such as sildenafil (“Li Long Mei Guo Mo Bang”) and dexamethasone (“Ginseng Tu chong Wan Lin Heong”).

The MHRA says these products are potentially dangerous and while none of these products are authorised for sale in the UK, they can be bought on the internet. It advises the public that suitable herbal medicines will contain a Traditional Herbal Registration or have a product license on their packaging.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138207

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